Eustis Estate

The Eustis Estate

A Magnificent Home for a Young Family

On November 7, 1876, twenty-five-year-old Edith Hemenway married twenty-six-year-old W.E.C. Eustis. A year later Edith gave birth to twin sons Frederic and Augustus. Shortly thereafter the couple began to build their family home on land given to them by Edith’s mother, Mary Hemenway.

 

W.E.C. Eustis

William Ellery Channing Eustis (1849-1932) was the young patriarch of the estate. His parents moved to Milton in the early years of his childhood, purchasing an eighteenth-century house just north of here. Called W.E.C. by his family and friends, Eustis was a Harvard-educated engineer who owned two mines and a smelting company during his lifetime. He was an avid yachtsman and, during his later years, enjoyed hunting wildlife in Florida. An amateur photographer, W.E.C. had a dark room installed in the basement of his mansion. He captured many scenes of his active family on their Milton estate.

Edith Hemenway Eustis

Edith Hemenway Eustis (1851-1904) was raised in one of the wealthiest families in New England. She gave birth to twin boys in 1877 and a daughter in 1885. Although little is known about Edith Eustis’s personal life, records indicate that she was devoted to her family and had many friends in Boston and surrounding towns. She had three sisters, two of whom died young, and a brother who lived about a mile away from the Eustis Estate. Edith passed away suddenly in 1904 at the age of fifty-three after contracting pneumonia.

Mary Tileston Hemenway

Mary Hemenway (1820-1894) was the mother of Edith Eustis. Born and raised in New York, she moved to Boston when she married Augustus Hemenway, a wealthy merchant known for opening trade with Chile. The family had a mansion on Beacon Hill in Boston, and in 1866 purchased Old Farm, a 230-acre estate just south of the current Eustis Estate. Augustus Hemenway died just months before his daughter’s wedding, leaving his widow in possession of one of New England’s largest fortunes. In 1877 Mary hired architect William Ralph Emerson to renovate and enlarge her house at Old Farm. Shortly thereafter Emerson was again engaged by the family to design W.E.C. and Edith Eustis’s mansion next door.

Frederic and Augustus Eustis

Fred and Gus Eustis were the twin sons of Edith and W.E.C. Eustis. Born in November 1877, they were two years old when the young family moved into their Milton home. The twins were very active in their youth. Their father enjoyed capturing images of them playing tennis, bicycling, riding horses, and participating in other activities on the estate. Both boys followed in their father’s footsteps and attended Harvard University, graduating in 1901, and then joined the family mining business. In the years that followed, Fred married and built a house next door for his growing family. Gus married several years later and continued living in his parents’ home, taking over the estate after his father’s death in 1932.

Mary Eustis

Mary Eustis was born in 1885, when her twin brothers were eight years old. Like her siblings, she spent time enjoying the many leisure activities available to her while not in school. As was expected, Mary was formally presented to society at age nineteen on January 5, 1904, in a lavish ball held at Copley Hall in Boston. Tragically, Mary’s mother Edith became ill on the day of the party and died just four days later. Mary Eustis married in 1908 and moved to New York.

William Ralph Emerson

William Ralph Emerson (1833-1917) is celebrated for his architectural skill, seen in surviving buildings throughout New England, from Connecticut to Vermont. A prolific architect (and distant cousin of Ralph Waldo Emerson), Emerson left particularly large concentrations of work in Milton, Massachusetts (where he lived), and Bar Harbor, Maine. In Milton alone, Emerson designed at least twenty-five buildings. Although best known for his Shingle-style houses, he designed many buildings in the Queen Anne style (including the Eustis Estate).

Domestic Staff

The Eustis family maintained a full staff of domestic servants while living here. The 1880 U.S. Census tells us that a total of five people were employed in the house and living in the servant’s wing. By 1910 only W.E.C. and Gus Eustis lived in the house, yet they still employed a staff of six domestic servants.

Farm Staff

From the early years through the 1920s, the MacDonald family supplied most of the farm and grounds labor on the estate. Up to eleven family members worked for the Eustises, followed by a second generation of MacDonalds who were born and raised on the estate while their parents worked here. Other individuals and families were also employed at the estate over the years, although beyond the census records there is little that we know about their roles and everyday lives.

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